This is what DIY looks like (Masciola-style)

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Low point

Fortunately, Lawrence-Galloway style DIY looks a hell of a lot better.

High point

Well, those gorgeous Modwalls glass mosaic tiles were a bitch to put down. And I don’t use that word lightly. They came from California in 15×15 squares of tiles stuck to plastic sheets. The first hiccup was the fact that the bathroom floor was not prepared for tiling. It wasn’t even and had some small holes. So it needed a layer of plywood. Then Katy took a look at the instructions that came with the tiles and learned that they have to cure in the mortar for 24 hours. Stone or ceramic tiles can set for maybe 6 hours in mortar before being grouted. This new reality meant that tiling the bathroom floor would take 3-4 days, a project we had planned on taking 2 days. The first night of tiling we were at the house until near midnight and Katy and Mark were practically broken in half. All that would have been fine after a good dinner and a bottle of wine. But the next morning, we returned to find the floor had bucked up. It looked like there were wavy foothills all over the bathroom. Soul crushing.

Ever resourceful, Mark decided to selectively remove single tiles and screw the plywood down through the mortar. Okay, good solution. But when Mark and Katy started to remove the plastic squares that the tiles had come on, tiles started to come up by the dozens, hundreds even (see first photo above). The only solution at that point was to stick the tiny tiles down one by one. Katy and Mark did most of the re-tiling, “buttering” each tile by hand and placing it on the floor in even rows. Soul crushing.

Then we left it all to cure again for 24 plus hours. The second picture above is the result on Friday after Mark grouted and cleaned the floor. There were a few loose tiles, but all in all they worked a miracle. And then Mark installed the toilet!! Sing it with me people: Hallelujah! A week of either holding it until we got to the general store or peeing behind the house (ours and our neighbors’) was closer to camping than I had expected ever to get again.

We didn’t get to the shower or the bathroom faucet plumbing, but Mark installed the Ikea vanity, sink, and cabinet. And note the beautiful color on the wall. It’s called Filmy Green by Sherwin Williams. A Katy Lawrence-Galloway choice, of course. Oh, and the tile blend is an original Katy design called Luna-sea.

New bathroom vanity, sink, and cabinet

I was able to do a lot of the relatively idiot-proof work in the kitchen, putting together the cabinet drawers and doors.

Kitchen cabinet doors and drawers in place

That is a temporary plywood counter top, thanks to Bob the Builder. We are still considering counter top materials, but we needed a work surface.

We got almost the whole downstairs painted. Robert was master of the priming. Then we came behind him and put up the gorgeous colors that Katy chose. The great room is painted a lovely blue green called Quietude. The pictures don’t really do it justice.

View from the kitchen to great room

The guest room is Exciting Orange. Again, the picture doesn’t do it justice. But it is really stunning in my opinion.

Guest room all made up

Our room is a soothing color called Hinting Blue.

Master bedroom

Okay, next on the to-do list is flooring. We’ve decided to go with local pine and hope it will be installed by early June when we return. Then we are going to take a crack at putting the polyurethane on it. (or maybe not.)


Gourmet kitchen in the works

March 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

Well, yesterday we actually put together two of the most difficult cabinets, the corner cabinets with lazy susans. Then we gave up and went to dinner in Bath. We didn’t get as much cabinet building done as we hoped to. Consequently, Robert thought we’d never finish the cabinets before heading home tomorrow. But, alas, we were a cracking great team today and completed the other 7 cabinets! Check ’em out:

Kitchen cabinets coming together

A few shots of the new windows from the inside:

Kitchen windows facing Lewis Road

Kitchen windows facing driveway

Looking into the great room from the kitchen

I am thrilled with all the new windows in the house. The interior sashes are wood and the exterior are a color called sandtone, a sort of gray brown. I am so glad I opted for the sandtone instead of white. Right now the trim around the windows and doors and all the corner boards, etc., is white. But that’s just until we have them painted in the spring. I’m thinking about a sage green for the trim, a color that will work with the sandtone, and maybe red for the doors. Inside, we’ll leave the window sashes as they are I think.

Anyway, we took a break from cabinet assembly to have a little lunch and a walk down to the dock. Five Islands was quiet, but not dead. There are still some year round folks coming and going. There is snow everywhere, what some might call a winter wonderland (and others might call a slushy, salty, sandy mess).

Lewis Road

Lewis Road neighbor

Perhaps the highlight of our little stroll was the flock of ducks down at the dock that were downright pushy. They rushed us as we rounded the corner onto rt. 127.

Someone has clearly been feeding these ducks. They are very demanding, so much so that Robert felt obliged to go back to the house and get them some bread. While I waited for his return, the ducks eyed me menacingly.

Where is our food?

After our walk, it was back to work. We finished the rest of the cabinets by about 6:30 p.m. We felt such a feat deserved a nice dinner out, so we went into Bath for a meal at Solo Bistro, our favorite local restaurant. It did not disappoint. More on our latest adventures tomorrow.

Close up look at the new exterior

March 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Well, we finally made it back to Five Islands. We’ve planned to come at least twice since late December and been thwarted by weather. We loaded up a truck with IKEA cabinets and some large furniture and headed up here on Monday morning.

It was a long drive in the truck. We were supposed to get a 10 foot truck, but there were none left when Robert got to the shop. So they gave him a 16 footer. Oy vey! That thing is a monster, with no pick up whatsoever. But the best part of the drive was getting stopped by a police officer on the Saw Mill River Parkway in New York. We saw the “passenger cars only” sign as we entered the on ramp to the parkway. Hello?! Why do they wait until you’re on the on ramp to tell you this important rule?! At that point, it was impossible to Not get on the parkway. Admittedly, we could have exited the parkway at the next exit, but we chose to stay on, and thus knowingly disobeyed the law. After about three exits, a police officer pulled up behind me and stuck close until there was enough shoulder to pull me over. Then he turned on his lights. He informed me that if I had passed one more exit, I would have come up on a bridge over the parkway with an 8 foot clearance that the behemoth I was driving would clearly not fit under. I’ve never been so relieved to be stopped by a cop. He told me that he could give me 5 tickets, but he chose not to. So nice. In any case, he told us how to get off the parkway and detour to 684. That took us maybe 45 minutes out of our way, but at least we weren’t stuck under a bridge in Chappaqua.

We arrived in Five Islands at about 10:30 p.m. after almost a 12 hour trip. Exhausted. The last few miles into Five Islands were icy and treacherous. But even in the dark, we could see how beautiful the house is with the new windows and shingles. The inside is a wreck, but we didn’t care. Robert quickly set up his camp kitchen and made us a little dinner and then we passed out.

Here’s what we woke up to this morning.


Front side shingles complete

One of these days I’ll get around to putting the before pictures up next to the after pictures. But for now, you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that the house is completely transformed. And it looks beautiful so far. The kitchen now has 6 huge windows facing the east and south, so the sun comes in first thing in the morning and lasts almost all day.


Street view in morning sun

The north end of the house faces the gully and is the first side you see as you come up Lewis Road. We’re still trying to decide what to do about that concrete foundation. It’s even more ugly now that the new shingles are up. Perhaps we’ll paint it. We’ll certainly be filling in some dirt around the sides to improve drainage.

Gully side of the house

The driveway side will be the last to get shingles. But you can see the new sliding glass door and kitchen windows. This is the side that will one day have a screened in porch. Right now, there is a step ladder to welcome you into our little cottage “on the rocks”.

Driveway side still to be shingled

Tomorrow I’ll post some pictures of the inside as well as our progress in putting together those damned IKEA cabinets.

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